Could a modern nurse choose to wear a classic vintage nurse outfit like this if she chose to?

As in this picture.
and this

or would modern regulations not allow it for some reason?

I’m not sure about the cape, but at the L&D floor at one of the hospitals in my area there’s a nurse that still wears one of those hats. I don’t remember if she had a button down dress like that though.
My (now ex) FIL works there and said that she’s been wearing that hat forever, or at least as long as he can remember. I’m willing to bet she’s probably been wearing it since the time when all nurses wore them.
So at the very least I can say that this hospital will allow that nurse to wear part of the uniform.

Though I’d guess that if someone wanted to wear the entire thing, cape and all, they’d probably say no. OTOH, I have to wonder if the cape was just for going outdoors (making house calls) and I doubt the hospital/doctors office would be all that worried about what they wore when they punched out. Beyond that, if would be up to whoever sets the rules.

It would just depend on the dress code where they worked. I doubt most people would find it practical.

Most hospitals would not allow, of all things, the shoes in the second picture. Open heels or strapped heels are a violation for safety reasons; the shoe must cover the entire foot. Of course, lots and lots of nurses wear Crocs with open backs. But most of the time, they’re breaking the rules in doing so.

Most places have specific dress codes which specify scrubs, or a specific color of scrubs This is a new old trend; nurses in one color, respiratory therapists in another, physical therapists in another - the idea is that the color coding helps the patient know who is walking into the room, but I’ve noticed most patients don’t get it. “Whites” are often allowed as an alternate, or informally, especially for Registry (“substitute”) nurses. Hardly anyone does wear them, though. I noticed two during my time in nursing school, both older Filipino nurses.

Nursing homes/rehabilitation centers are another matter. Those tend to encourage/require something closer to the classic Whites, perhaps because the older patients find it more comfortable. Still, you don’t see skirts much; they really aren’t practical. But I do know several nursing/rehab places with white slacks and fitted white button up shirts with princess seams.

The cape isn’t something I associate with nursing. It would certainly get in the way in a modern medical setting, not to mention being hotter than the dickens.

I’ve never seen a cap in the wild. Shame. I don’t think they’re disallowed so much as simply Not Done. Very few schools have capping as part of the traditional ceremonies anymore, but there’s still an understanding that a nurse wouldn’t wear any style of cap other than her school’s cap, preferably the one given her as a sophomore by the senior class members. The photographer who took our graduation pictures brought one to the photo shoot, and we took turns wearing it if we wanted - about half the people in the final composite chose a shot with the cap; the others are bareheaded. My SO bought me a vintage cap for Christmas, because he knows I love them so. I’ll probably never have the nerve to wear it at work, though.

If you’re interested in the history of the nursing uniform, especially the caps, there’s a fascinating series on Medscape about it:

Needs a login/password.

ETA bugmenot has one that works.

ETA2, that looks long, I’ll read it later.

It is long, yes. Several parts of long.

I had such a crush on Julie London when I was just a young’un. She ruined me for all women. If anyone tells my husband, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

Now, what about nurses in a physician’s office (not at a hospital)? They often wear printed shirts (scrubs?) with little pictures all over them – little flowers, teddy bears, etc. Some examples that I could find:

I used to go to doc’s office regularly for blood pressure check (which any one of the nurses did). One of them had a shirt like that decorated with little pictures of all kinds of hypodermic needles. And they wondered why my blood pressure always shot up when I went there for my blood pressure check.

In the hospital in which I worked, several nurses wore their dress whites complete with cap and white hose to celebrate Med-Surg Nurses’s Week. White dresses (long sleeved for RNs and short sleeves for LPNs) would certainly be allowed but aren’t as practical. Caps fell out of favor for hospital wear because they are germ catchers. The style I have has to be hand washed and starched heavily, dried flat and refolded. I have seen nurses wear their dress whites to funerals of their fellow nurses.

I’m in home health now. I could wear a white dress, but some of the places I go are filthy. White wouldn’t stay white long. Some of my patients would love to see it, though.

they are still selling them

I’d like to see a return to white uniforms-the “Nurse Ratched” look was cool.


Strolling through Houston’s Methodist Hospital a few years ago, I saw a nurse in full nursie drag. That hospital has some luxury suites for the monied ill; she might have been a private duty nurse. Most hospitals have codes for their employees & the old outfit is uncomfortable & impractical.

The head nurse at the facility where my mother lived out her last months wore practical, washable white slacks & top. But she also wore a nursing cap. Some of the patients were rather far gone, but the cap probably helped them recognize her as A Nurse…

And that:

Is why I often wear this:

Especially because I, too, am a home health nurse, I want my work clothes to be as desexualized as possible, for my own safety.

What could be more practical than a cape?

Or Nurse Diesel.

Plus the printed ones are especially popular with techs who work with kids, because they’re cute and non-threatening.

My mom-in-law Jane trained for nursing back in the mid 60s, I vaguely remember her mentioning a pin and getting a hat at some point. Her scrubs are provided by the hospital she works in, but she might still have the formal white dress and cape somewhere.

I used to live in Japan (close to 10 years ago now), and at least at the time nurses there did still typically wear fairly traditional dresses and caps in either white or pink. The particular style varied depending on where they were working, so I assume different hospitals and clinics had their own uniforms.

It’s Nurseferatu!

The capes were a little like the Hogwarts ties and what not. Each nursing school had their own colors, etc. The cape identified you as a student of that school, and afterwards it was liek wearing a “old school tie”.

I’ll also point out those little capes are two layers of wool, and thus very practical. They also could be whisked out of the way in a trice if you were about to get icky.

(My Grandmother had one of those, found it in a trunk along with her pictures and stuff)